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Comment: What republic? How Australian media lost its cool over Harry and Meghan.

Crikey logo Crikey 29/10/2018 Emily Watkins

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s tour of Australia has ended, and while it reportedly was worth millions for the tourism industry, the couple has also provided apparently endless content for the local media. 

The frenzy truly kicked off with the couple’s announcement of a royal bun in the oven, and it barely cooled off over the next two weeks.

a person standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd.

The Australian, the country’s only national broadsheet, wrapped up the visit on Monday with a front-page piece by political lobbyist and commentator Graham Richardson claiming that Harry and William have “squashed” the republican movement in Australia.

While they may not have had it in their heads as their mission in life, the sons of Princess Diana have squashed the republican movement in this country. The issue had largely slipped from the public’s consciousness even before Harry and Meghan’s trip Down Under, but in the wake of the couple’s wildly successful tour, it has now completely dis­appeared off the radar.

a close up of a newspaper © Provided by Private Media Operations Pty Ltd.

That very paper — as did all the major Australian daily newspapers in 1999 — editorialised strongly in favour of Australians voting to become a republic, saying the vote was a “stark choice”: “Between attachment to an anachronism and confidence in our future. Between an emblem of aristocracy and an emblem of our egalitarian ethos. Between another country’s symbolic leader, with mere residual relevance to Australia, and our own head of state, able to represent us at home and abroad.”

The Sydney Morning Herald said becoming a republic would be a powerful symbol: “Symbols are powerful. The monarchy in all its symbolism takes away from Australia’s self-respect.” The Daily Telegraph echoed those sentiments, saying the symbols associated with the monarchy in the UK  “belong to another nation, inspire another nationality”.

Part of the success of the royal tour is down to the sheer volume of media coverage, across all the media. The Oz has featured the royal couple on its front page five times over the two weeks they were in Australia and the region. For daily papers, this was only topped by the Daily Telegraph and the Courier-Mail, which used their pictures as their front page splash six times each.

And the dedication to coverage wasn’t unique to the News Corp tabloids — The Sydney Morning Herald also used the photogenic couple on its front page five times during the visit, and 20 articles mentioning the couple. That’s nothing, though, compared to the Tele’s interest — 66 articles mentioned the couple over the two weeks after their arrival in Sydney on October 15.

The TV news has also been flush with coverage of the visit, with breakfast shows sending out reporters to cover the visit live, and even the ABC was sucked into live shots of the couple’s engagements on its news channel, coverage in its evening news bulletins and comprehensive coverage online.

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